We've seen him make cell phones a laughing matter in Lethal Weapon 4, make animals talk in Dr. Dolittle, and even draw comedy in A.I., but Chris Rock finally has a starring role in Down to Earth, a remake of Heaven Can Wait. I haven't seen that Warren Beatty film, but I do know one thing; if it is anything like this funny comedy, then it is probably pretty good.
I had heard not-so-good things about Down to Earth, but I was pleasantly surprised that Chris Rock had me laughing the entire time. Rock, a guy I can only take in doses (like most loud-mouthed comedians, I guess), lights up the screen with charismatic dialogue and humorous antics.
The only problem I have with Down to Earth, which is probably the problem that a lot of people had, is that a good chunk of the comedy takes place in a nightclub, with Rock doing standup routines. The routines are entertaining, but did I watch this movie to hear Chris Rock do standup? I can get MP3's off the internet for free. Furthermore, since these routines take up a decent amount of screen time, what happens to the actual story?
Greg Germann plays one of my favorite characters on the Fox comedy "Ally McBeal," and he plays a similar (but slightly more ruthless) character in Down to Earth as Rock's right hand man. Unfortunately, his character is given no depth and no screen time. Other characters get the shallow treatment as well, so we basically get a solo Chris Rock powering the entire movie.
I also would have liked to see more of the large, white guy that plays the millionaire who's body Rock takes over. Having Chris Rock's voice dubbed over this big white guy means automatic humor, but Down to Earth barely takes advantage of that.
Despite its flaws in the storytelling department, Down to Earth is a funny and entertaining film that uses Chris Rock's comedy almost to its full potential. There are some things that this movie could have done better, but it has lots of comedy and that is all it needs.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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